Anyone who has tried to write anything has encountered writer’s block at some point, whether the project was a simple report, a book, or a postcard to a friend. The chance of encountering the dreaded writer’s block seems to increase exponentially with the length and sophistication of a project; someone hammering away at a sequel is likely to spend lots of time stuck figuring out how to tie together their plot than another person will on trying to figure out the perfect way to text their friend a hearty congratulations on their promotion at work.
“Just write,” seems to be the conventional antidote to writer’s block. In a sense, it’s so simple that it is guaranteed to work! You can’t get better without practicing, and you can’t complete whatever you’re working on unless you’re putting some effort toward it. What kind of effort is more tangible than actual words on the page? Still, I’ve found myself questioning the applicability of this advice. How many times have I sat down to write, only to find that no ideas come to mind? Or perhaps I actually come up with something, but it ends up trimmed or totally altered in the plot later.
Now, my personal experience with the advice to “just write” doesn’t mean that it is incorrect advice. In fact, it means just the opposite; what I failed to do is to tailor it to my own needs. Now, instead of waiting for the magic to happen and for my story to write itself, I free myself to begin writing from a different part of the story. Often, the part is so far into the future of the story that I am unrestrained by whatever events in the tale that are causing me writer’s block in the first place. Sometimes I’ll wait for a particularly inspiring thought to hit me, and then go ahead and write a fun scene based around it. These little tidbits may or may not end up in the main story, but when they do, it’s always amazing! Even if they don’t, my little foray away from the stresses of trying to complete wherever I am in the plot is often enough to allow me to come back with a fresh perspective.
So then, I don’t allow myself to get too tied up in what exactly is meant by “just write.” It will mean whatever the individual author needs it to mean, whether that is drafting by stream of consciousness, writing loosely and accepting it may need lots of editing later, or whatever else. The main thing is that, well… not writing certainly isn’t getting work done. It’ll always be better to do the opposite in whichever form it takes for you to move closer to your achievement!